It has been another busy week so I'm writing two blogs again. This one should be relatively short. On Sunday we ventured into Blantyre and found a coffee shop for breakfast. We sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. We also got to take a tour of the United Church of God/LifeNet's property. It's out of the city and surrounded by beautiful green mountains. It will be a lovely place for the congregation to meet when it is finally completed.
In the afternoon we went back to our lodge and prepared for the members to come visit us
On Monday we decided, since we were in the south we should check out a tea and coffee plantation. This place was gorgeous! Satemwa plantation has over 1,500 hectares of tea, coffee, blue gum trees (used for drying the tea), and natural wood forests (for maintaining the local ecology). The plantation has turned the beautiful home into an inn. It was built in the 1920's and retains the colonial period charm: big open verandas, dark wood accents, and big claw-footed bathtubs. We didn't stay there, but maybe for a special occasion.
The tour was fascinating. We saw how the tea was harvested (either by hand for the green and white teas or with clippers attached to a box for the black teas); we learned the difference between the teas (it's all in how they are harvested and processed); we saw coffee bushes and learned the difference between the different beans, and how drying makes a difference to the type of coffee you get.
Another entry in the annals of Lena mishaps: we were exiting a row of tea bushes and I underestimated the steepness of the drop, as well as the slipperiness of the slope; I, of course, fell and slid on my bum
At the end of the tour we were able to order and sample different teas and coffees. I had a moteato; a twist on the traditional mojito; it was so delicious.
By noon we hit the road to head home. We were all tired and ready to be back in Lilongwe. After about an hour I glanced at the map and realized we were much further west than we should have been. We missed a turn. We were hot, tired, and frustrated. I looked at the map and determined we could continue west and hit M1 (the road that leads to Lilongwe), so we'd not gone too far out of our way. Until we reached a police checkpoint in ??. The soldier informed us that this particular stretch of M1 would veer into Mozambique and we weren't allowed to carry on. Looking at the map I'm still skeptical of this validity of that claim since further north we definitely drive on M1 that straddles the border, but he wasn't budging so we had to turn back. We had officially driven an hour out of our way, for a total of two additional driving hours. I am so tired of the Bongo!
And the beauty of Malawi strikes again; one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen blazed to the west of us. It was gorgeous and helped soothe my bad attitude.
As we pulled onto our road at 8:30pm I was flooded with relief; we were finally back. And the thought popped in my head... I bet the power is off again. Sure enough. We open our apartment to find the electricity off again. Such is the African life. I'll write about the second half of our week and our trip to Zambia next.
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Thyolo, Southern Region, Malawi